Clinical Mental Health Counseling MA

Frequently Asked Questions



What is Counseling?

The American Counseling Association (ACA) in 1997 adopted a definition of professional counseling as:

 “. . . the application of mental health, psychological or human development principles, through cognitive, affective, behavioral or systemic interventions, strategies that address wellness, personal growth, or career development, as well as pathology.”

Counseling can be more precisely defined as a relatively short-term, interpersonal, theory-based process of helping persons who are basically psychologically healthy resolve developmental and situational problems.

Counseling activities are guided by ethical and legal standards and go through distinct stages from initiation to termination . Personal, social, vocational, and educational matters are all areas of concern; and the profession encompasses a number of subspecialties. A practitioner must complete a required course of study on either the master’s or doctoral level to be licensed or certified as a professional.


What is the difference between counseling and other mental health professions such as clinical psychology and social work?

Counseling is distinguished from other mental health disciplines by both its history and its emphasis. Other helping professions such as psychiatry and clinical psychology concentrate primarily on the treatment of severe emotional disorders. Social work deals basically with the social and legal aspects of assisting others in need. In contrast, counseling focuses on development and the prevention of serious mental health problems through education and short-term treatment. It emphasizes growth as well as remediation. Counselors work with persons, groups, families, and systems who are experiencing situational and long-term problems. Counseling’s emphasis on development, prevention, and treatment make it attractive to those seeking healthy life-stage transitions and productive lives (Cole & Sarnoff, 1980; Romano, 1992).


How long will it take to complete the MA program in counseling?

It will take a minimum of 2 ½  years full-time (including summer sessions) to complete the 60-credit Master’s degree in clinical mental health.